Who and What

My name is Hailey and my grandfather is a farmer. I'm the 7th generation to live on the family farm, and my babies (when the time comes) are going to be the 8th. My husband and I are even renovating a trailer on my grandparent's farm so we can move back to the family farm sooner. This blog encompasses the things that are important to me. These things are:

~Special Education
~ADHD, including my own battle with it over the years. It's now my superpower.
~Farm Life
~Equal rights for women.
~Goal setting
~Fitness and health
~Financial Stability
~Personal Happiness

Thursday, July 31, 2014

My Books, My Journeys to Other Worlds

This is going in our house when we build it.

I do not deny that my college education was an excellent one. I went to one of the best universities in the state (Virginia Tech) and participated an excellent program at a small local college where my parents met (Lynchburg College), for my graduate work. During this time I read more than I ever thought possible, but along the way I seem to have forgotten that you can, and should, read for the pure joy of it.

How did I forget that? How did I lose the wonder of walking the halls of Hogwarts? When did I stop noticing the color purple in a field? Where did I lose my compassion for Grace and Pilgrim as girl and horse struggled to regain faith in each other and humanity after a tragic accident? I don't know where it was lost, but I do know that in the last few weeks, I have read with a level of enthusiasm I forgot was possible.

Below is my list of my top 100 favorite books (or series) of all time, in no particular order. They encompass a wide range of genres, writing styles, reading levels (I love kids books), time periods and authors. Some I've only read once, others again and again. All are excellent.

  1. Water for Elephants
  2. Total Money Makeover
  3. Kiss My Tiara
  4. To Kill a Mockingbird
  5. Handle With Care
  6. House Rules
  7. The Hunger Games Series
  8. The Kite Runner
  9. The Da Vinci Code
  10. The Horse Whisperer
  11. The Color Purple
  12. Jurrasic Park
  13. South of Broad
  14. Uglies Series
  15. Leviathan Series
  16. The Harry Potter Series
  17. Divergent Series
  18. There Are No Shortcuts
  19. The Help
  20. The Happiness Project
  21. Happiness at Home
  22. The Storyteller
  23. The Elite Series
  24. The American Girl Books
  25. Fifty Shades Series
  26. The 5 Languages of Love
  27. The Giving Tree
  28. Romeo and Juliet
  29. A Thousand Splendid Suns
  30. Alice in Wonderland
  31. The Very Hungry Caterpillar (The first book I read by myself)
  32. The Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls
  33. Stellaluna
  34. A Series of Unfortunate Events
  35. Of Women and Horses
  36. Love You Forever
  37. Ella Enchanted
  38. Just Ella
  39. Alice Series
  40. Fairest (In case you've missed the theme, I love fairytale remakes.)
  41. Guess How Much I Love You
  42. Oh the Places You'll Go
  43. Hamlet
  44. Holes
  45. Chronicles of Narnia
  46. Bridge to Teribithia
  47. Charlotte's Web
  48. Matilda
  49. Ramona Series
  50. The Modern Girl's Guide to Life (A great, all around, tongue and cheek guide to life.)
  51. The All Around Horse and Rider
  52. Animals in Translation
  53. The Horse Boy
  54. Marley and Me
  55. Thank You Mr. Faulkner
  56. The Monster at the End of This Book
  57. Falling Up
  58. A Light in the Attic
  59. Where the Sidewalk Ends
  60. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
  61. Where the Wild Things Are
  62. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle Series
  63. If You Give A Mouse a Cookie
  64. Half Broke Horses
  65. Frances Series
  66. Curious George
  67. A Char for My Mother
  68. Wayside School Series
  69. The Giver
  70. The Rainbow Fish
  71. The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses
  72. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
  73. Speak
  74. Mirette on the Highwire
  75. Airhead
  76. Shiloh
  77. I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You
  78. Peeps
  79. The Lovely Bones
  80. Cinderella Ate My Daughter
  81. Black Beauty
  82. The Eighty Dollar Champion
  83. Women and Madness
  84. Housekeeping
  85. Mean Genes
  86. So Yesterday
  87. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
  88. Misty of Chincoteague 
  89. Justin Morgan Had a Horse
  90. Not Without My Sister
  91. Hand, Hand Fingers Thumb
  92. Riding for Blue
  93. It's Not The End of the World
  94. Are You There God? It's me Margret 
  95. Calvin and Hobbes
  96. Every Boy's Got One
  97. Ever After
  98. The Loop
  99. Sight Hound
  100. Hatchet
What are your favorites? How do you enjoy books? 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hopping Mad: A Punny (But True) Tale of Country Living and a Small Battle with Our Postman

Over the weekend, my dad opened his Saturday paper to a surprise. No, not a jaw jumping headline, but a tiny tree frog, who apparently found the news "ribbeting." My father did the only logical thing he could think of. He snapped his picture, posted it to Facebook, then gently returned his little friend to the semi permanent puddle by the roadside he assumed to be the little guy's humble "a-toad."  

My father thought little of this interaction, and had more or less forgotten about his amphibifriend until last night, when he got home and checked the mail, only to find this note: 

For those of you who struggle with our mail carrier's chicken scratch, it reads "Remove Frog, mail will be held."Apparently, Kermit, as I have decided to name him, had hopped into the mailbox for some shade, only to frighten our postman. The man's been a real grump here recently. This is the second time in as many weeks that he's had a complaint and held our mail. Perhaps he should find a frog to kiss and see if it turns into a princess. 

Afraid that another run in with our postman would cause Kermit to croak, my dad gave him a new home in my mom's flower garden, where he has happily made friends with some much more loving characters. All he has to say on the matter is, "it's not easy being green."

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

5 Adult Truths: Little Secrets I'm Learning Along the Way

I just (literally, about 5 minutes ago) finished reading Gretchen Rubin's second book, "Happiness at Home." In these books, Rubin discusses what she calls "Secrets for Adulthood," and "Splendid Truths." These are small things she has figured out along the way to help her lead a happier life. I find myself repeating hers or coming up with my own on a regular basis, so I thought I'd try making it a weekly staple in my blog. Some of these are quotes or thoughts I've read and heard, others are things that hit me in the shower or when driving down the road, and still others are tidbits of advice I've gotten from my friends and family over the years. So, here are my 5 Truths of this week:

  1. If you're going to be in pain anyways, you might as well go have fun. My mom used to say this to me after I got my braces tightened and didn't feel like doing much of anything. She never let me miss out on the fun stuff, just because my mouth hurt a little. I've been braces free for over ten years, but this still runs through my brain anytime I am considering backing out of something fun for a lame excuse. 
  2. If you make it convenient it's easier to do. This applies to both things you should be doing and things you shouldn't be doing. If you have enough workout clothes to keep you from having to do extra laundry to ensure you have exercise clothing, you're not going to use that as an excuse. Additionally, if you're trying to eat better, eliminating junk food and precooking healthy casseroles to take to work can make it a lot easier. On that note, I really need to buy some more workout clothes and start prepping frozen meals for back to school. 
  3. Hang up, shut down, turn it off. One of the reasons I had such an amazing weekend last week was because I was blissfully disconnected. And guess what, THE WORLD DIDN'T END! I left my phone in the car, skipped checking my e-mail and watched no TV until Sunday night when Brad and I sat down together. Best of all, those around me weren't on their phones much either, which allowed us to enjoy our time together. 
  4. The earlier you do it, the sooner you can cross it off your list. I am strange, or so I am told, because I get up early every morning before work and put in an hour or so of time into chores, running our small business, Krushed and Kreated, or just to enjoy some quiet time to myself. I love getting to cross something off my list before the rest of the world has even rolled out of bed. And best of all, 4am is a wonderfully quiet time of day. 
  5. Doing a little at a time of something will eventually get it done. When I did my Justing Morgan project for the American Morgan Horse Association, (a tremendous undertaking) I broke it down into VERY small chunks. I did a little almost every week for two years. It took a lot of time, patience, and at times I wanted to tear my hair out, but breaking it down in this way allowed me to have a lot of success very quickly. It kept me motivated.  This is the principle behind many other plans I like, including the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover, which we are now using to work our way out of debt. 
Everyone has little tips and tricks they learn along the way. They keep us sane and get us through even the toughest days. What are some of your truths? 

Monday, July 28, 2014

The 52 Lists Project: My greatest comforts.

Everyone has things they find comfort in. Jane Austen said, "There is nothing like staying home for real comfort." Comfort is in the small things that we find safety in, the tiny actions in which we have certainty, and the places we feel we fit into. Continuing off of my 52 lists from last week, this week my list is on 52 things I find comfort in. 
  1. The way my kitchen smells as I am baking. Currently I am catching whiffs of zucchini bread, made from my family's recipe. The aroma of cinnamon is enough to fill you with a warmth that makes you melt with happiness.
  2. Crawling into a bed covered in cool, clean sheets. Is there any greater luxury?
  3. Listening to music that takes me home, no matter where I am. For me this is usually a country song, but every now and then Rod Stewart or Springsteen gets thrown into the mix.
  4. A fire in the fireplace on a cold day. 
  5. Curling up with Brad and watching a movie before bed. 
  6. Baking, and the knowledge that if you follow a recipe, you will get the desired finished product.
  7. Reading a good book and getting entirely lost in it. 
  8. The sound of my sewing machine.
  9. Warm socks.
  10. The part of the day when the animals are fed, dinner is on the stove, and I can completely relax. 
  11. Lists, that give a sense of order to my life. 
  12. Watching funny TV shows. 
  13. Being able to figure things out. 
  14. Looking at old photos.
  15. Being outside on a nice day.
  16. Hula hooping.
  17. Writing
  18. Laying out my clothing.
  19. Sitting with a dog's head on my lap. 
  20. The sound of rain on the roof. 
  21. Planning things out.
  22. The weight of heavy blankets.
  23. Writing out my thoughts. 
  24. The smells of my childhood home: coffee, fresh cut grass and the pear lotion from Victoria's Secret that my mom always wore. 
  25. Spending time with friends when no one is on their phone.
  26. Hot tea with milk and honey. 
  27. Living next door to my grandparents and across the street from my parents. 
  28. Disney movies.
  29. Books on tape. 
  30. Time spent at the library.
  31. Having everything at home organized and well kept. 
  32. Fresh laundry from the dryer. 
  33. An extremely hot shower.
  34. The smell of rosemary. 
  35. Hugs from people I care about. 
  36. Knowing I taught a really good lesson to my students.
  37. A tangle free mane and tail on my horse.
  38. Clothing that fits.
  39. Being prepared.
  40. A pile of books to read. 
  41. Small acts that restore my faith in humanity. 
  42. Knowing that a thriving plant can grow from a tiny seed. 
  43. Soup.
  44. Food that can be made in the crockpot.
  45. A great bargain, couponing, or working to find excellent sales. 
  46. A good night's sleep. 
  47. Exercise.
  48. Riding bareback and feeling the warmth of the horse against your legs. 
  49. High quality chocolate. 
  50. Sharing excitement with my family. 
  51. Being financially stable. 
  52. Having good teachers. 
What things do you find comfort in? 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

When did we grow up? Reclaiming bits of my childhood in stolen, precious moments.

My father and me. I am sure he wonders, as I do, how he blinked and we were adults. 

Yesterday I didn't post an entry, because I was doing something much more important. I was spending time with friends, and reliving bits of my childhood. Yesterday I sat on a swing for the first time in three years. I pumped my legs, closed my eyes, and for a brief instant, I was ten years old, under the tree in my backyard with my grandmother telling me to be careful, and not to go too high. I let my braid fall over my shoulder, and embraced the feeling of the breeze on my face. I let myself feel the danger of going ever so slightly too high and having the swing give a jerk on the way back down.

I couldn't help but wonder, why did I stop doing this? Why has it been three years since I allowed myself the simple joy of being on a swing? When did I grow up and stop doing things as a child does, for the pure joy and loveliness of it? When did I get old enough to be married, to have my own home, to be contemplating children of my own, to be looking forward to the arrival of nieces and nephews? To borrow a quote from the creator of the original Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin, "The days are long, but the years are short."

Part of my Happiness Project is me working to allow myself to feel the zest for life I did as a kid. To enjoy things as a child does, that is things that I have allowed to get lost in the shuffle of adult life. Here are eleven things that I have promised I will do to attempt to regain the enthusiasm of my youth.

  1. I will swing, and allow myself to get lost in the moment, and the joy that was wind and air and flight and freedom. 
  2. I will enjoy my horses as I did in my youth. I will ride bareback, bake horse treats, and do pony spa days. 
  3. I will read the things I want to read, without shame or fear of judgement. I will allow myself an afternoon to peruse picture books, cross the bridge to Teribithia, enter the wardrobe to Narnia, or hop on the Hogwarts Express. 
  4. I will flirt with my husband as if I am fifteen, quietly take his hand, and enjoy a walk in the park with him. (This was one of my favorite dates growing up, as well as one of our first dates.)
  5. I will find a creek, use my feet to turn over rocks to catch crawfish, and sit with my legs in the water, allowing myself to be transfixed and fascinated by the leaves and blades of grass I feed to the current. 
  6. I will be friendly the way I was growing up, without worrying about whether I am liked or not, of if I'm crossing a line, or any other adult fear that we are too wise to feel as children. 
  7. I will tell and laugh at bad, clean humored jokes. (Where do cows go on Friday nights? The moooovies.)
  8. I will do things that make me happy, not things that are "supposed" to make me happy. I will read and swing and write my blog and brush my pony's mane. I will not go to a concert, just because it's something I "should" find enjoyable. 
  9. I will watch the movies and shows I watched as a child and fall in love with them all over again. 
  10. I will slow down, and notice the precious things of wonder around me. When was the last time you watched a spider build a web, studied an animal living its ordinary existence, counted the cars on a train that went by, or appreciated just how many colors there were in the sky as the sun went down? 
  11. I will dream, as if I am without limits and as if any tomorrow is truly possible. 

True, we are not Peter Pan and we cannot live in Neverland forever, but we can go back for brief periods in the stolen, precious moments of free time as an adult and enjoy them to the fullest. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Reaching Out: Why Do We Hesitate to Connect With Each Other and Are There Solutions?

Add one more chair, and make room for people in your life. 
If I'm completely honest, I've never been awesome at making friends. I have trouble approaching people, I'm awkward in a way that some people find charming, but many considerer to be weird, and I, like many others, fear rejection. Most of the friends I've made over the years, I've made largely through proximity.

As of late, however, I think it's become even more difficult to connect with people. I can't quite figure it out, but I have some thoughts.

Over-caution: When you're a kid, even a college kid, you're less cautious with people. You're more willing to invite someone new over, or out for coffee or to the mall. As adults, we're more cautious about who we invite in to our homes, cars and lives. I'm not saying we shouldn't be safe, but do we sometimes take this too far?

Time constraints: In addition to our new found worries, we also have different priorities. We have homes, pets, spouses and in some cases, children. It's hard to justify going out for coffee to bond with a new friend when there's a pile of laundry to get done.

Fear of overstepping boundaries: I have several friends who I lost touch with when I was in college. Fast forward four years and add a complicated marital situation and kids to their lives and I worry that they won't see me as being friendly, but trying to butt into their privacy. I'm never sure how to approach this one.

Technology: I sat across the table from a coworker at a lunch not too long ago, and they spent the ENTIRE time on their Smart Phone. I felt so awkward. I try to avoid having my phone around when I eat, as I think it's a bad habit, and I tried to start a conversation for a few minutes, but eventually gave up since I felt like they were seeing me as bothersome, although I'm not sure why their game of Candy Crush was justification for them being rude.

Life status: My friends from Lynchburg currently fall into two categories. Married with children or single and partying. I don't have kids, but I am married and have no desire to party. I really just want a friend to go grocery shopping with, or to help me purge my closet and tell me which pants make my butt look big. However, that doesn't seem to be a priority of most of the other twenty somethings I know.

Despite all this, I haven't given up hope. I've made it my mission to reach out and connect with people more often as part of my Happiness Project. Here are 11 things I have either already done, or have plans to set in the works.

  1. Try something new. I went rock climbing last week with my friend Fez, and decided that I'll take it up on a more regular basis. 
  2. Show up for the friends you have. Whether its their birthday, a Mary Kay event, or packing up to move, being there for the friends you do have can help you reconnect with old friends or get closer to newer ones. 
  3. Embrace others in similar situations. I'm hosting a cookout next week for all the new teachers at my school. I was really nervous to reach out to them, but everyone responded with enthusiasm. Why didn't I try to do something like that sooner?
  4. Join or start a club. I'm thinking about trying to put together a big kids, children's book club, for adults who enjoy children's stories. Books like Harry Potter, Charlotte's Web and Bridge to Teribithia would definitely be options. 
  5. Send a nice note. Snail mail, e-mail or Facebook are all acceptable. Encourage someone, congratulate them on their accomplishments, or tell them thank you for something. I've gotten a few of these in the last few months and it definitely made my day. 
  6. Volunteer. Get involved with a cause that means something to you. You're guaranteed to meet people with similar interests. 
  7. Use your guest pass. If you're a member of a gym or other activity that allows you to have a guest pass, use it. Invite someone new to come along and use the experience to bond. 
  8. Be willing to work on it. You might get rejected a few times, but don't take it personally. Some people take a while to warm up, and many are genuinely busy. 
  9. Ask other friends to play matchmaker. 
  10. Take a class. You'll learn something new and meet others interested in learning the same thing. 
  11. Write a blog. I'm still new to this, but I'm told blogging is a great way to connect with people. I'd love to meet some new friends through this thing. 
Do you have suggestions? Want to connect? Feel free to share. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Tribute to Lynchburg, and It's Top 10 Places

One of our engagement photos from the Lynchburg City Cemetery.
I have lived in Lynchburg for my entire life. When I was in high school, all of my friends could only talk about how much they wanted to leave, but I never have. I love this town. Admittedly, sometimes the local political beliefs turn my stomach, but on the whole, people are kind to each other, I run into someone I know almost every time I go to the grocery store, I get help unloading my truck at the dump, and there's a lot of fun to be had if you know where to go. Here's my list of my favorite places in "The Burg." If you haven't checked them out, you're missing something.

  1. Amazement Square: An amazing children's museum located in a renovated factory building in downtown Lynchburg. It's fun for adults and children alike. In addition, they are working to form a partnership with Lynchburg City Schools to help them to enhance their SOL curriculum. 
  2. Lynchburg City Cemetery: If you're probably thinking, "a cemetery?! What kind of town is this?" But the Lynchburg City Cemetery is actually one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. Known for its historic tours and lectures, beautiful flowers and of course its trademark swing. Brad and I even did our engagement photos there. I've also taken campers from Camp C.H.I.L.D. and rode in their Bicentennial Funeral Parade. 
  3. The T Room: Also known as the Texas Inn, you haven't lived until you're tried a cheesy western with bacon. 
  4. Forest Farmer's Market & Lynchburg Community Market: Every Saturday morning from April to October, you can go to one or both of these locations for fresh produce, locally raised beef and eggs, and baked goods. If you go to the one in Forest, be sure to check out Bold Beef Ranch. The owner, Breck Light, is an old friend, and his product is top notch. 
  5. Lynchburg Hillcats: In addition to being a fun place to go watch a baseball game, I have to give the players major props. Last year my school took a group of my students with special needs to a game and they were amazing with them, throwing them easy pitches and talking to them. 
  6. Riverside Park and Sprayground: This beautiful park is just off Rivermont Avenue and is absolutely gorgeous, not to mention FREE. In the summer they have a playground filled with sprinklers appropriate for all ages. It's a great place to cool off on a hot day. 
  7. Rivermont Pizza: Pizza is made to order, and local bands often frequent the restaurant. 
  8. La Villa: This is our favorite Italian restaurant in town and their pasta is to die for. Reasonably priced, but upscale enough when you're looking to celebrate. 
  9. Robin Alexander Bistro: This place has a fun atmosphere, great service, and just about the best burger I've ever eaten. 
  10. Montana Plains: I'm not one for pastries, but something about their raspberry cheese danish is simply irresistible. 
Are you from Lynchburg? What's your favorite spot? 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Meal Planning Without Mayhem: How to keep your sanity, budget and marriage in tact when making menus

Every week my husband and I sit down to do meal plans, and just about every week, I want to tear my hair out. Don’t get me wrong, I love Bradley, but were it up to him, he would eat the same five meals over and over and over.

I am the exact opposite. For me, cooking and eating is an adventure. I love to experiment with recipes, to try foods I’ve never tried before, and to cook things in new ways. Brad has made many efforts to improve his eating habits over the years, and has done a pretty good job. He now eats eggs in multiple forms, beef, some fish, and if I can work it into a pizza, he’s all good to give it a try. It sounds small, but these are all huge strides from where we were when we first started dating. However, incorporating new recipes and foods is still a struggle, particularly when he feels overwhelmed by options. For him variety is stressful, not enjoyable.

Recently we have come up with a way to get over some of this food frustration through a new method of meal planning and so far it seems to be working. We eat together 5 nights a week, since Brad works late on Tuesdays and Thursday. The rest of the week we follow this schedule:

Monday: Eggs or Bacon night. We can cook just about anything, but eggs or bacon must be a key component.

Wednesday: Grain Night. This can be as simple as a box of pasta and canned sauce, or as complex as a made from scratch risotto. On tonight’s menu is fried quinoa and fish.

Friday: New Ingredient or Cooking Technique Night. This week we ended up with peaches out the wazoo from my grandparent’s trip to a local orchard, and we need to do something with those. So anyone with a new way of prepping peaches, we are open to suggestions.

Saturday: Spin for it Night. That sounds a little confusing, so let me explain. My friend and coworker, Fez turned me on to this idea. There’s a website called wheeldecide.com, were you can enter in categories or choices and then spin the wheel to decide. So we picked a few cooking techniques, some colors, a kitchen appliance or two and some themes and entered those in.

Sunday: Family Dinner or Use It Up. Most Sundays we eat with my parents, and I try to make or buy some sort of dessert to go with it. (Usually make, but last week the cakes at Fresh Market tricked me with their Siren Song.) If we don’t eat with them, we try to use up something we already have in the fridge.

This keeps us sane, helps us to stay on budget, and makes busy nights a lot less hectic. It also keeps me in line with my diet. Here are some other tips and trick we use to meal plan and keep our food expenses, including expenses of time and resources, easier:
  • ·      Go to the store less and take a list. I know we’ve all heard it before, but the more often you’re in a store and the less you plan, the more money you spend.
  • ·      Mini loaf pans and other microwave and ovenproof containers are my best friend. It makes it easy to freeze leftovers so I can take them for lunch or eat them on a night alone at a later date.
  • ·      Know what you have. There’s a handy little app called Out of Milk that helps you to keep track of your grocery list and your pantry inventory on your Smart Phone.
  • ·      If you’re going to splurge, do it on items that are on Manager’s Special. You can score awesome deals on everything from steak to strawberries if you shop these deals. And if you have the space to stock up, do it then.

Do you have any tips for meal planning or saving on groceries? We’d love to hear it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Name is NOT Illegitimate. The struggles of hyphenating our last name...

Those of you that know me, know that last June, I married the love of my life and best friend, Thomas Bradley. You also know that our wedding was somewhat different from the traditional (how many people do you know that used a divorce attorney as their officiant?!), as were some of the choices we made leading up to and following the big day. 

However, the choice that seems to continue to spark the most controversy has been the changing of BOTH of our last names. I expected it to seem a little strange to people at first, but I never expected that I would be put in a position to defend this choice on a weekly basis, even a year after the fact. Sometimes I think I'd be less judged if I followed in the steps of one, Ms. Carrie Underwood and "didn't even know my last name." I'm not trying to whine or get mad, but I would like the rest of the world to know that their words can be irksome and even hurtful to those of us in the "hyphen-nation." 

Here are just some of the comments/reactions I have heard in the last year:

1) When we went to legally change our names at the Social Security office, it took me all of 5 minutes. When Bradley got up to the counter the trouble started before he could even fill out the form. First we had to convince the man behind the counter that it was, in fact, legal in the state of Virginia for a man to state marriage as a reason for changing his last name, and be granted the request. (We checked.) Then we were told that even after filling out the paperwork (3x more than I had to fill out) he might have to go to court to be granted the request. While we ended up not having to, the idea that we could have frustrated me. 

2) A few weeks later, I had to refile some information for insurance at my job. My boss noted that both of us had hyphenated names on the form, and commented that he'd "noticed it (both of our name changes) on Facebook," but he "didn't think it was a real thing," and that I "must be more stubborn than he thought." I've had others make similar comments, some of them in much more vulgar vernacular. "Guess we know who wears the pants." "She's got you by the balls." Why is a woman changing her name normal, but a man changing his name a sign of a she devil wife or a lack of masculinity? 

3) We NEVER get called by the right name. It doesn't matter how many forms we write it on, how often we correct people (as nicely as possible), or who we are interacting with. People pick one. For goodness sakes, even hyphenated it's only three syllables. Is that one extra phoneme too much work? And in the inevitable event that they have to correct the forms, they do so in an exasperated manner, rolling their eyes at what they clearly think is a crazy feminist or a weak willed husband. The only time it doesn't bother me is with my students, and most of the time I have them call me Ms. G.-C. It saves time.

4) Computer systems reject my last name. I filled out a plethora of paperwork online last week for my new job, and each time it would come up with an error message saying my last name was not legitimate. My Social Security card and Driver's License beg to differ!

Here is the real story. I'm not controlling and my husband isn't weak. I am stubborn, but I have never succeeded in "making" Brad do anything he didn't want to. Here are the real reasons we decided to hyphenate: 

1) We are partners. Our relationship is built on mutual respect, trust, partnership and compromise. At our wedding, we were pronounced "partner's in life," instead of "man and wife." 

2) Brad wanted us to have the same last name. I wanted to keep mine. This was our solution. 

3) We live on my family's farmland. It has been under the same name for 7 generations. I wanted a portion of that name to stay with it for at least one more generation, and Brad, being a history major, understood this importance. 

I have no idea what our children will do when their time comes, but I hope they understand the symbolism behind why we made the decisions we did. We wanted act and be viewed as equals from the very beginning, in every aspect of our lives. It was a decision made out of love for each other. All we ask is that people respect the decision we have made, and not pass judgement on us for it, or any couple who makes a similar decision. 

Now, for those of you who would like a more humorous recap, here is a link that fairly accurately describes what goes on inside my head when I'm biting my tongue: http://www.thefrisky.com/2014-03-03/14-signs-youve-got-hyphenated-last-name-problems-in-gifs/hyphenate-problems1/

Monday, July 21, 2014

The 52 Lists Project: Words that Touch Your Soul

This door, the front door of my parents' house, represents nearly all of these words in one way or another. 
Last year, I was browsing on interest when I ran across "The 52 Lists Project." Started by Moorea Seal, a jewelry and fashion designer and fellow list lover, each week she suggested a topic for a list, focused on positive thinking. I liked the idea, and when I started considering my happiness project, I decided I would participate in the project as well. So, every week for the next year, I plan use her list topics to help to stimulate some positive thinking of my own. This week, the topic is words that touch your soul.

  1. Empathy
  2. Home
  3. Family
  4. Farmland
  5. Roots
  6. Grow
  7. Plant
  8. Brave
  9. Courage
  10. Effort
  11. Work
  12. Cook
  13. Love
  14. Hoop
  15. Question
  16. Create
  17. Teach
  18. Give
  19. Share
  20. Wealth
  21. Friend
  22. Support
  23. Grace
  24. Drive 
  25. Success
  26. Unity
  27. Spirit
  28. Beauty
  29. Horse
  30. Dog
  31. Struggle
  32. Overcome
  33. Tolerance
  34. Peace
  35. Will
  36. Strength
  37. Mystery
  38. Thought
  39. Flow
  40. Achieve
  41. Believe
  42. Dream
  43. Keep
  44. Warmth
  45. Patience
  46. Amaze
  47. Begin
  48. Passion
  49. Compassion
  50. Faith
  51. Free
  52. Blessing
What words touch your soul? Also, check out the original project, as well as Moorea Seal. She's pretty awesome. Business woman, designer, writer… definitely deserving of my respect.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

My 12 Commandments

One of the things suggested in "The Happiness Project," was coming up with 12 "Commandments" for approaching this project. These are essentially rules to help you find happiness. As with the rest of the book, emphasis is placed on being yourself. My 12 commandments don't look like anyone else's nor should they. However, I am hoping they are useful as I take this journey. They are:

1) Be Hailey. Who hasn't, at one point or another, done something out of their true nature to please others. A happiness project is about pleasing yourself. One of my favorite quotes from the book was, "You can choose what you do, but you can't choose what you like to do." Making yourself do something because it's "supposed" to make you happy is kind of like eating lobster, when what you'd rather have is a burger. Unsatisfying, wasteful and often a poor use of money.

2) This too shall pass. My grandfather used to say this all the time, and it was what got me through the pain spikes before they got my CPS under control. Its also kept me from getting too bogged down by a difficult situation. I have plans for a tattoo with this quote in the not too distant future.

3) Focus on pleasing yourself. Ask "what would I do if I wasn't afraid?" This is very similar to commandment one, but goes slightly beyond it, in that it works to remove me from the fear of failure and judgement, as long as what I am pursuing is something that makes me happy.

4) Be nice, love well and often. I can, at times, be quick to anger and slow to forgive. I also tend to take a long time to trust people fully. I feel that being nice and approaching others with an attitude of love will help me to be more satisfied with my life overall.

5) Write it down. Something about writing things down makes them more real to me. I'm more likely to complete tasks, stick to it or remember it if I write it down. It's a big part of why I started this blog.

6) Act how I want to feel. Also known as "fake it til you make it." So even if I'm not happy at that moment, putting on a smile and sucking it up is much more likely to lead to long term happiness then if I stew.

7) Take pride in the process as well as the results. Some days I think that if I could wave a magic wand and be completely debt free, living in my dream home (which my husband, Brad and I have the plans picked out for), twenty pounds lighter and working my perfect job I would. But if I did that, think of all I'd miss out on. I would have given up all the nights Brad and I got creative with dinner, just so we didn't have to spend any more money. I'd be skipping all strange freebie dates we have yet to plan so we could have fun on the cheap. I'd never get to experience the thrill of seeing all the small steps that of into building your dream house, and adding all the touches that make it home. I'd have lost out on the small victories that go into working towards your dream body. And I'd miss tons of learning opportunity. Enjoying the ride is often the best part of getting there.

8) Stop comparing yourself to others. I see my friends' babies, six packs, and job promotions on Facebook and I can't help but be a little jealous. But those same friends could just as easily be jealous of the freedom I have, the chocolate desserts I make and the job I have. I need to be good enough for me and no one else.

9) Accept failures along with success. Without failure, success would not be appreciated. Remember the kid in elementary school who always got As and was indifferent to it? If you don't, it was you and the experience wasn't something you got a great deal of joy. If you do, you're like the other 99% of the population, and because of your failures, your victories are that much sweeter.

10) Be reasonable in what I expect of myself and others. I tend to expect too much of myself, and I'm frustrated when I don't achieve what I set out to. I think I also tend to expect more from others than I should. By being reasonable, I think I will find myself happier and less frustrated in myself and others.

11) Do what I'm supposed to do and pat myself on the back for it. I can't be the only one out there that doesn't always eat like they should, or forgets to turn off the lights, or doesn't take the time to put things away. And when I do the things I'm supposed to, I want a check mark or a gold star. I want someone to notice and tell me good job. But people won't and they shouldn't have to for me to be happy.

12) Find a way to change what I dislike. This one is pretty self explanatory. If I don't like it, I need to fix it.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

My Happiness Project

I'm not sure when I started to feel lost, exactly. Maybe it was when I decided that double majoring in education and animal science wasn't a practical option. (I wasn't, to this day no one from my alma mater has finished a double major in these areas. Perhaps it was when I came home from college and quickly found myself working with some of the most challenging special education students in the area, and realized I knew a lot less than I thought. Possibly it was when I was diagnosed with a rare form of Chronic Pain Syndrome, that while now under control, had turned every aspect of my life upside down. 

All I know is that, about a month ago I woke up (not in the middle of the night) to the fact that I wasn't happy. No the depressed kind of not happy. Interestingly, when I was diagnosed with CPS I was placed on an anti-depressant, which helped me manage frustration and anxiety I didn't even realize I had. I just wasn't satisfied. I found myself asking, what's wrong with me? I had no reason to be unhappy, and in reality I wasn't. My husband and I just finished renovating a house and moved back to family farmland, we had both gotten new jobs, plus, I had just finished my Master's and I had gotten a clean bill of health from my doctor on a recent visit. I should have been on air, but I wasn't. 

At best, I was neutral. I think in the course of getting my degrees and being just out of college, many of the things that have historically brought me the greatest deal of happiness had either become unpleasant in some way or simply gotten put on the back burner while I worked on finishing my education. What I wanted was to find joy again, but I also wanted to find joy in a way that helped me to grow as a person.  I was at the library a few days later, browsing the nonfiction section for books on effective teaching when "The Happiness Project" caught my attention. I finished it in three days, which is the fastest I have finished any pleasure reading since my senior year of high school. 

The idea was mesmerizing. Gretchen Rubin had spent a year researching the psychology of happiness and applied the principles to her own life. As a result, she became a better friend, mother, and wife, and achieved much greater things in her career field as well. She kept tabs on her goals, how she was working to accomplish them, and what effects they were having on her personal happiness. Best of all her principles seem easy to follow. 

So I'm jumping on this Happiness Project train, in the hopes that it will lead me to a more fulfilling life. Feel free to follow my journey, and to contribute your own ideas as well.